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Olympus E-P1 | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
In addition to the test in practice, the Olympus PEN E-P1 is also extensively tested in our DIWA Lab. DIWA Labs tests the image quality of the Olympus E-P1 in an up-to-date laboratory environment that is equipped with the DxO Analyzer (version 3) which is the most advanced software to test the image quality of cameras. Testing this image quality is a complicated and time-consuming matter. Artifacts in the optical design, imperfections of the image sensor and shortcomings of the image processing algorithms are important factors that play a role in delivering high quality pictures. Today, it is an almost impossible task to evaluate pictures with the naked eye, especially with current technologies and tiny differences in the results.
Olympus E-P1 | Digital Camera Olympus E-P1 | Digital Camera
Olympus E-P1 camera settings
The Olympus E-P1 is primarily aimed at the amateur who switches from a compact to a more extensive camera. At the same time, the Olympus E-P1 will in my opinion also appeal to many professional photographers, due to the larger image sensor and the flexibility of the system. There are a lot of settings available on the Olympus E-P1. If you want to be able to use all these settings, you have to turn the custom menu on. This is standard deactivated to prevent the consumer from getting confused.

To photograph in JPEG and RAW
In addition to JPEG you can also shoot in RAW, which is a must for every demanding photographer. For RAW processing, Olympus includes Olympus Master. Olympus Studio allows you to control even more, however, this is only available at a fee. The programs ask a lot from the computer and are not that fast. Recently, the software has been improved, and you can also apply the arts filters to RAW pictures. For those who like playing with filters, this is undoubtedly good news. You can now simply continue fast shooting while using the creative filters at the same time. Having to wait behind the computer is after all less annoying than when you're in the streets waiting until you can take your next shot.

Olympus E-P1 image sensor
The default settings of the Olympus E-P1 provide an excellent quality. The image sensor is a lot bigger than that of compact cameras, but smaller than most DSLRs. This does influence the quality and the depth of field somewhat, while this is larger than on a digital SLR. Aperture F/2.8 of the E-P1 and other Four Thirds cameras equals to f/5.6 on a full frame camera when it comes to depth of field. At the same time f/2.8 for a compact will soon be f /8 on the E-P1. Due to the fact the rear glass is positioned this close to the sensor, you need to keep lenses very clean. You will find that every single tiny spot on the rear glass will appear in the picture. Especially when you increase the aperture. This is perhaps the biggest drawback of Micro Four Thirds.

Olympus signal/noise ratio
Olympus has limited the number of pixels on the sensor of the E-P1 to 12 million, which is more than enough according to Olympus, and I completely agree. You might expect the Olympus E-P1 to come equipped with the same sensor as the other Olympus models, but this is not the case. The camera scores better when it comes to noise. Up to ISO 800 it is fine, higher than ISO 1600 however, it becomes bad and ISO 6400 seems no more than an emergency call as far as I am concerned. The DIWA test graph shows very little color noise, all lines are closely together. This is an advantage because color noise disturbs a lot more.

Dynamic range of the Olympus E-P1
The dynamic range is fine as expected. It is less than an SLR and a lot more than on a compact camera. Concerning the noise, the dynamic range decreases from ISO 800 which is logical. The color reproduction is excellent throughout the entire sensitivity range. Often, you notice that colors fade at higher ISOs, but the Olympus E-P1 does not seem to be affected by it. The curves of the E-P1 stay fairly flat and there are no major differences between the color channels, which makes the pictures look very nice and natural.

Vignetting & Chromatic aberration
Both lenses perform well. The Olympus 17 mm pancake lens is even sharp enough at maximum aperture. However, the lens does suffer from slight vignetting, which can be easily corrected afterwards. Adjusting the aperture with one stop already makes vignetting nearly disappear. Slightly more difficult is chromatic aberration, the graph displays its increase as soon as you decrease aperture.

Olympus PEN camera review
In the sample pictures taken in practice, it does not actually show. Neither does distortion. While the maximum aperture of the pancake lens is slightly larger, the autofocus works a tad quicker than with the zoom lens.

Olympus EP1 lenses
It is amazing how Olympus has managed to design a zoom lens this small, whilst at the same making sure it is also able to come up with a decent performance. From the technical lab tests, it shows that it is somewhat more difficult than with a fixed focal point. However, even in the maximum 14mm mode, the 14-42mm lens does not disappoint at all. Sharpness is fine from the beginning and remains so for a while. It's not until f/11 that sharpness drops drastically due to diffraction. The other focal points remain fairly consistent, but do not reach the sharpness the 14 mm mode provides. It must be said that these are minor differences that only show up in a laboratory measurement. However, the 14 mm disappoints when it comes to chromatic aberration, which is significant over the entire range, while the other focal points suffer a lot less from this phenomenon. Distortion is also more significant in the 14mm mode, whereas it disappears upon zooming in. Vignetting stays within the limits throughout the entire range.

Olympus PEN lens

Olympus E-P1 movie function
In addition to taking still pictures, the Olympus E-P1 also allows for capturing videos and, it must be said, quite successfully indeed. Very unfortunate however, is the fact the camera does not provide a truly effective continuous AF, which makes a video functionality such as on the Panasonic Lumix GH1 camera impossible. The AF in video mode is simply too slow to track a subject correctly. The videos are recorded in HD 1080x720p format. The capture time is limited to 7 minutes, but I think this is not a problem for most. You rarely shoot nonstop, but would rather edit afterwards. As with photography, you will have to be selective in what you capture. The art filters can also be used during filming, causing some funny effects. However, during filming you will notice the picture is rather jerky and also when playing back the video, it is not always smoothly. It puts a lot of strain on the camera's calculation ability. The stereo sound captured with the video is superb. This is where you really recognize the class of the LS-10 recorder. However, watch out what you're doing, since zooming and focusing is also recorded and will be heard when playing the video! Connecting an external microphone to prevent it is not possible.


PEN camera test
Olympus E-P1 Olympus E-P1
   
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